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Based at Manchester Science Parks, the MedTech Centre Incubator is a joint venture between the Manchester Science Parks, CMFT and TRUSTECH (the North West Innovation Service).

The MedTech Centre Incubator provides biomedical companies with accommodation and support, including access to clinical expertise within CMFT, to help them to grow and develop healthcare products.

Dr Paul Hanmer, the MedTech Centre Incubator Manager markets the centre to start-up companies and provides support services to those based at the centre. The companies are drawn from the private sector and also start-ups based on ideas developed by healthcare professionals.

As part of his work, Paul brokers collaborations between staff within CMFT and companies.  This collaborative approach to developing new healthcare products enables clinicians to shape products early in their development to help ensure they are fit for purpose.  Our work with the MedTech centre is aligned with the Trust’s mission to improve people’s health through research.

We asked Paul what it meant to him to work with start-up companies.

"The incubator provides a supportive environment where we can work with early-stage companies. I'm very enthusiastic about helping the development of innovative technologies which may provide tomorrow's treatments for CMFT patients."    

Over the past three years, the demand for hot-desking space in the MedTech Centre Incubator has grown, and the centre’s recent relocation to larger premises on science park means it can now house up to 40 companies.

One of the first examples of successful collaboration with CMFT was Patientrack:

Patient early warning score monitoring system

The Problem

Incidence, cost and risk factors for in-hospital adverse events is well documented. Failure to comply with clinical protocols and in particular failure to communicate the most appropriate and timely clinical response has shown to be a significant causative factor for in-hospital adverse events.

With the availability of cheap, reliable and robust information communication technologies (ICT), it is now possible for clinical observations to be analysed at the bedside. The incorporation of clinical protocols as computer algorithms to improve protocol adherence has been demonstrated in areas such as medication prescribing, weaning from mechanical ventilation, insulin therapy and anti-coagulation. Despite the sophistication of such systems, they are still dependent on human response to the derived information on alerts for appropriate clinical response. Automated alerting and managed escalation is a unique feature of Patientrack.

The Solution

Patientrack has been developed to support and enhance ward processes such as observations capture, Early Warning Score (EWS) calculation, and clinical responses to alerts. If clinical responses are unsuccessful or absent, then Patientrack repeats the alerting process in accordance with predefined hospital rules until the clinical situation is resolved. The data collected by Patientrack is available for operational, management, planning and research purposes.

The software enables nurses to use portable electronic devices to record standard patient observations such as heart rate and blood pressure. Observations are sent wirelessly, in real-time, to a server where they are used to calculate an EWS that is automatically sent back to the user. Using unique alert logic, the EWS prompts a repeat set of nursing observations at an appropriate interval, and in the event of a high score an automatic alert is sent to a doctor through the hospital’s paging system. The alerts continue until the patient’s observations return to normal or another appropriate intervention is made.

The Process

Patientrack engaged with CMFT and the MedTECH Centre incubator to develop and trial their software with a view to creating a product offering significant patient benefit and a wider cost saving to the NHS.

CMFT identified a Critical Care Consultant with an interest in this field and facilitated the relationship between the company and critical care team.

Patientrack and CMFT agreed to develop and evaluate the software for 6 months on 2 acute medical wards within the hospital. Baseline data was collected before the trial, which commenced in April 2008. The results were independently evaluated and found a reduction in length of patient stay, improved EWS accuracy, and significant increase in clinical attendance to patients.

The MedTECH Centre‘s support to Patientrack has helped them to:

  • Identify a clinical champion;
  • Facilitate ethics approval for the trial;
  • Maintain project momentum by facilitating regular trial meetings.

Patientrack is now being implemented at three NHS Trusts and the company are engaged with a number of other Trusts who are looking to purchase the software.

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